Kevin Strange’s A Quiet Place Movie Review

A Quiet Place is that rare modern Hollywood horror film which manages to, either by accident or by clever design, promote strong family values, tradition, and masculine ingenuity almost unapologetically.

Ostensibly a silent film, A Quiet Place tells the story of one of the last remaining families in a town ravaged by blind monsters who hunt using sound-sensitive organs built into their armored heads.

If the premise is easy to swallow, the teaser scene before the credits is even easier to relate to. The family, out on a scavenging expedition to the local supermarket is confronted with one of the most common problems families face in such circumstances: The little boy wants a toy.

Only the stakes here are much, much higher. The toy space shuttle he picks up is the battery operated kind that makes a lot of noise. If he presses the button, the family dies.

Luckily dad manages to get the shuttle away from his son before disaster strikes and here we begin to see the family dynamic solidify among an amazing strong cast of actors who must emote and tell their story with almost no dialogue between them

Writer/actor/director John Krasinski sells this moment with his son, both sternly admonishing the child for nearly getting the family killed and showing warmth and understanding while curbing the child’s disappointment before the family sets off back home.

Tragically, the boy’s older sister┬áRegan, played by Millicent Simmonds, gives him back the toy in secret when they’re left alone in the store leading to his death a few minutes later and setting the stakes for who lives and who dies in this tense and action packed thriller as high as they come.

What follows is a tightly paced 90 minute tour de force of clever ingenuity and monster mayhem as we live several days in the life of a family that cannot make any sound, lest they be savagely eaten by monsters always lurking just out of sight.

Our story picks back up at some point in the future with mom Evelyn (Emily Blunt, Krasinski’s real life wife) in the final stages of pregnancy. It’s during this time that we learn that Rean is deaf and the whole family knows sign language, probably their reason for surviving the monster apocalypse in the first place.

We learn their routine which includes laying down powder on all of their foot paths and traveling barefoot so as to not make any sound, communicating danger by way of changing the lighting in and around the house to red to alert other family members of the presence of a monster, and the addition of a sound-proof basement designed for mom Evelyn to give birth to the new baby.

Where A Quiet Place holds most of its appeal for me, personally, is in its emphasis on the traditional family dynamic, as rare in modern Hollywood as the silent films it pays respect to. Dad is not absent, dead nor a buffoon here. He is not a flawed villain. He is crafty, protective, compassionate, a true patriarch in a world of “toxic masculinity.”

In fact, other than a few logistical issues I had with the film (such as why the creatures stick around a vast, rural area after they’ve already eaten all but seemingly 6 people) my only complaints come in the third act of the film where we see all the common trappings of Hollywood come into play.

It’s here that we see Regan’s new hearing aid turn out to be the one weakness that will stop the monsters. Of course it is. It wouldn’t be modern Hollywood if the STRONG FEMALES didn’t take up masculine roles and discard their feminine strengths in order to thwart the evil.

Dad’s ultimate sacrifice to save his children falls flat for me, but that’s just a personal preference. I was rooting for him to live the whole time. Sacrifice is part of the hero’s journey, and while I thought little Beau’s sacrifice at the beginning of the film was more than enough, I understand the need to make the stakes and the loss even stronger at the end of the film in order to satisfy mainstream audiences.

In the end, while A Quiet Place is a masterfully told horror film with amazing acting and very cool monsters, I have to take several points off for know-towing to modern feminist pop culture and ultimately ruining what up to that point had been a fantastic send-up to traditional family life. A Quiet Place gets a strong 3 out of 5 strangeheads from me. It’s a great horror flick to enjoy with the family if you’ve got kids old enough to handle suspense, gore and monster mayhem.

Kevin Strange’s Bad Movie Recommendation: Demon Wind (1990)

Some movie covers just stick with you your whole life. For me, Demon Wind is one of the most memorable VHS covers from my childhood.

It was a big-box cover that had a hologram on the front–one of the only VHS covers from the 80s/early 90s video store era to have that gimmick. If you looked at the cover from one angle, it was just an ominous closed window, from the opposite angle, a hideous demon with sharp-clawed fingers pointed straight out at you exploded through the window. YES! Motherfucking Demon Wind!

Yet for some reason, I never rented it. As a kid, I was confused about the difference between little box and big box VHS movies when, after I tried to rent a copy of a big box version of Neon Maniacs in the late 80s, the video store clerk told me (probably in error) that the big boxes were Betamax tapes and the little boxes were VHS tapes. My house only had a VCR, so from that moment on, the big box tapes were off limits to me even though by the early 90s there were rarely Betamax tapes still stocked in mom and pop video shops.

As a consequence, I only watched this truly awful piece of crap this week, in 2018, as a 37 year old man. And maybe I’m better for it.

As any reader of this movie blog knows, I myself am not only a┬áconnoisseur of very bad movies, but made a fair amount of them myself. I say maybe I’m better off having not seen Demon Wind until now because as a seasoned veteran of schlock filmmaking and having seen hundreds if not thousands of shitty movies at this point, I can really appreciate the quirkiness of Demon Wind far more than I would have as a child of 9 or 10 (a child who already liked shitty movies, but still quite in the larval stages of shit-film fandom.)

The absolute ridiculous opening stinger featuring main character Cory’s grandparents besieged by demonic voices, the demonic possession of his grandfather complete with puss spewed from mouth that would make any fan of the Troma meltdown proud, and the utter randomness of Cory’s grandmother blowing the whole fucking house up by dropping a snow-globe being the type of scene that could never be fully appreciated by a monster-loving sprout of a child, no matter how enthusiastic.

As a seasons screenwriter and novelist, I can much more fully appreciate the jaw-dropping lunacy of not just gathering Corey’s group of friends together to visit his grandparents’s cabin so he could “work some things out” after having horrific dreams about his dead father, not just the batshit decision to then have Corey’s friend’s girlfriend’s (keep up) ex-boyfriend show up THROWING MAGIC TRICKS OUT OF A CAR but then, roughly an hour into the film, bring in ANOTHER couple only to kill them less than 5 minutes later.

A little Kevin Strange just would not have produced the same belly laughs over the first actual kill in the film coming in at the forty minute mark and said death being a little demon girl turning one of Corey’s OTHER friend’s girlfriends into a doll with bleeding eyes that then catches on fire and NO ONE CARES!

Throw in a random pair of tits on a demon just to have random tits on a demon and what you’ve got is a 1990 cash in on the Evil Dead franchise demonic-cabin-in-the-woods trope that fails in every possible aspect of delivery from characterization, plot, acting, gore, monster FX and any other storytelling device of filmmaking you can think of.

My favorite part of this movie that would have been better off never made is the climax that would make any Kevin Strange fan proud. Ya’ll know I love to get nuts in my third acts. Well Demon Wind does not disappoint, as the random generic gas station “don’t go out there or you’ll be sorry!” character actually turns out to be the big bad demon dude who sucks all the souls of the other demons inside his body to become some kind of super-shredder-esque uberdemon who then decides that his single big-body should devour Cory and his girlfriend instead of just letting the lesser demons who WERE ABOUT TO EAT THEM ANYWAY do the job.

As if super-demon wasn’t enough, Corey taps into the family tradition of spellcasting by… giving himself a giant penis head? I don’t know what the fuck he looks like. A conehead, an extra from Alien Nation? How does morphing himself into a dickhead help him defeat the bad guy? Well, naturally, it fucking doesn’t! It’s Corey’s girlfriend Elaine who suddenly levels up in her random witchdom and chants the words of the final spell that banishes gas-station-warning-dude-cum-demon-bad-ass back to hell or wherever the fuck demons are from in this terrible fucking movie!

How to rate something so awful, gang? My criteria for bad movies is always that I’ll give them a chance as long as they’re not boring and Demon Wind is far from fucking boring. I can’t give it one Strangehead because there’s seriously some new weird fucking random nonsensical thing happening in every single scene. I can’t give it five Strangeheads because it’s just so fucking stupid. So I’m going to split the difference and give this whopper a solid 3 out of 5 Strangeheads for being too stupid to like but too entertaining to hate. Watch at your own risk!